Twisting park and forest roads pass through deep ravines and dense woodlands. Scattered shortleaf and pitch pines growing on the ridges were once a source of pine tar for early settlers, hence the name Tar Hollow. Dogwoods, redbuds and a variety of wildflowers color the hillsides in the springtime. Fall's pageant of color is spectacular.
Hand-powered vessels and electric-only boats are permitted on the 15-acre Pine Lake, which is perfect for canoes and rowboats. A launch ramp is located near the beach. Kayaks, canoes and paddle boats can be rented from the General Store.
Tar Hollow State Park Campground has a variety of sunny and shady sites, with Electric and Non-electric sites as well as Cedar Cabins, Sherman Cabins, and Group Camping. Reservations are required. A separate Primitive Camp Area on the Logan Backpacking Trail is for tent-only, hike-in camping. Registration for these sites is done at the General Store (in season) or park office.
Bluegill, bass, and catfish provide good sport on the 15-acre Pine Lake.
The General Store is open seasonally and offers camping supplies, souvenirs and snacks.
- Bikes, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats available for rent
- 18-hole Miniature Golf (fee)
- A game room offers coin-operated air hockey and foosball tables as well as a ping pong table.
- Sporting equipment is loaned to registered campers at no charge.
- Register here for Primitive Sites on Logan Backpack Trail ($4/adult or $1/youth, per night)
The park provides excellent hunting opportunities for squirrel, deer, grouse and turkey.
Three picnic areas offer tables, grills, and excellent scenery in a peaceful setting.
One shelterhouse is available for day use. It accommodates groups up to 50 people. It has picnic tables, a grill, and vault toilets. Reserve online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Pine Lake offers a 500-foot beach within walking distance of the campgrounds. Swimming is permitted in designated areas. Please exercise caution while swimming at the beach; there is no guard. Pets are NOT allowed on swimming beaches.
- BeachGuard — Water quality advisories, Memorial Day to Labor Day, from Ohio Dept. of Health
- Homestead Trail (blue blazes) - 2.5-mile loop - family friendly. Begins at the spillway at Pine Lake.
- Ross Hollow Hiking Trail (yellow blazes) - 3.5-mile loop - moderate terrain. Trailhead in the Ross Hollow camp area; provides foot access to the hills of Tar Hollow.
Logan Backpack Trail (red blazes) - 21-mile figure eight - difficult terrain. Traverses the park and adjacent forest. Parking and the trailhead are located near the dam spillway at Pine Lake. Backpack camping is located at the fire tower (at the center of the Logan Trail, in Tar Hollow State Forest) and is available on a first-come, first-served basis. Campers must register at the General Store (open seasonally) or Park Office; cost is $4 per adult or $1 per youth per night.
- A section of Ohio's Buckeye Trail (light blue blazes) overlaps a portion of the Logan Trail.
More to Do
- A playground and basketball court are located near the campground.
History & Natural Features
This region was wilderness to early man. Native Americans and settlers both found the land, especially in the valleys, to be rich and fertile. Many different Native American tribes contributed to the area's history. From about 200 B.C. to 500 A.D., the Hopewell inhabited the area. This culture left burial mounds that can still be seen. Later, both the Shawnee and Mingo claimed the area as hunting grounds.
In 1796, Nathaniel Massie platted a town on the Scioto River just north of the mouth of Paint Creek which he named Chillicothe. One hundred of the first lots were offered free to the first settlers. Farm lots in the area were sold for one or two dollars an acre, in 100- to 200-acre tracts. The area attracted many Kentuckians and Virginians. In 1803, Chillicothe became the state capital.
For a time, the ridges to the east of Chillicothe remained wilderness because the hills were too steep to farm. But as the pressure for land and lumber increased, the hills of Tar Hollow were gradually cleared and inhabited by marginal farms. Life was difficult and settlers took advantage of every resource available. The region derives its name from pine tar, an essential commodity in early Ohio households. It was taken from the knots and heartwood of the native Pitch Pine tree to be used in the home manufacture of balms, animal liniments, and lubricants for pioneer wagons and equipment.
In the 1930s, the Tar Hollow region was purchased for conservation purposes under a New Deal program, the Ross-Hocking Land Utilization Project. People were given a new financial start in life and were encouraged to move to the cities. Most, however, bought more poor ground outside the park and continued to live as they always had.
During the Great Depression, recreation facilities including the 15-acre Pine Lake and group camp were developed with support from president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal agencies; Works Progress Administration (WPA) and National Youth Administration (NYA). In 1939, the Ohio Division of Forestry assumed management of the land which was known as Tar Hollow Forest-Park.
When the Ohio Department of Natural Resources was created in 1949, the Division of Parks and Watercraft accepted land from several state agencies, and Tar Hollow State Park was developed from the earlier forest. Today the park is bordered by Tar Hollow State Forest—Ohio’s third largest state forest.
At one time, Ohio was covered by a warm, shallow sea. As land rose to the east, sand and gravel were washed westward into Ohio's waters. Southeastern Ohio's sandstone was formed from this sediment. These sandstone hills are covered with a rich, diverse forest. Oak and hickory prefer the dry ridge tops of the area, while sycamore, black willow, buckeye and silver maple line the stream valleys. The forest not only supports a variety of hardwoods but also contains a vast array of ferns, mosses, mushrooms and wildflowers. Bloodroot, wild geranium, cardinal flower and Solomon's seal are typical wildflowers found in the forest.
Surrounded by the rugged foothills of the Appalachian Plateau, Tar Hollow State Park and surrounding state forest are characteristic of the wilderness that blanketed Ohio in the days of early settlers. It is a stronghold for many exciting species of wildlife. Numerous reptiles and amphibians, colorful game birds, songbirds and secretive mammals can be found here. The timber rattlesnake, dwindling in Ohio due to deforestation, holds on in Tar Hollow's forest. The five-lined skink, distinguished by its brilliant blue tail, is found in the area along with the elusive fence lizard. Painted turtles can be seen along the shores of Pine Lake while the lumbering box turtle inhabits the dry land. Salamanders such as the red-backed, dusky, long-tailed and northern two-lined thrive on the cool, moist forest floor. In spring, the wooded hollows echo with the gobbling of wild turkey and the drumming of the ruffed grouse. Rare sightings of bobcat have been reported in this unique, wild region.